Re: Phonetic iconicity
From: Håkan Lindgren
SOCRATES: That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients. For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athene 'mind' (nous) and 'intelligence' (dianoia), and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, 'divine intelligence' (theou noesis), as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God (Theonoa); - using alpha as a dialectical variety for eta, and taking away iota and sigma. Perhaps, however, the name Theonoe may mean 'she who knows divine things' (Theia noousa) better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence (en ethei noesin), and therefore gave her the name ethonoe; which, however, either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form, and called her Athene.
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I like reading Plato. He was not in fashion when I was at university, so I had the pleasure of discovering him for myself. He quickly became a favourite. I was surprised that something that old could be so accessible to a modern reader - you easily hear the different voices, the shifts between satire and seriousness... Modern philosophers need more explanatory footnotes than Plato.
The reason I decided to put him on the back burner this time wasn't that I think he's too old, but because I've read enough of him for the present, whereas I haven't read any serious linguistics at all.